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The Riff Report: New Music This Week



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Interpol – “El Pintor”

If you’re still waiting for another “Turn on the Bright Lights,” you’ll most likely be waiting for some time, but you might as well take “El Pintor” for a spin to pass the time, because, after all, it might just satisfy that desire. Regardless of how one might feel about the general trajectory of Interpol’s career, this is the sound of a band revitalized and rejuvenated, and while it may not quite reach the incredible heights to which they so adeptly ascended in years past, “El Pintor” is still a fantastic record from a fantastic band. — Colin Fitzgerald

Ryan Adams – “Ryan Adams”

Well hurrah n’ hallelujah then for “Ryan Adams.” A record so Ryan Adamsly, ‘Ryan Adams-ish’ it could only be called “Ryan Adams.” Adams again rallies around the spiritual superheroes of his youth; Broooce, Petty, the ‘Mats, Smiths, Velvets. The result is this re-energised, Veteran smart and surprisingly groovy but bruised beauty. It’s not country, nor punk, but classic heartland rock n’ roll with swagger. Lots of swagger. It’s also probably what 2003’s happy scrappy hero pup “Rock N’ Roll” should’ve been. But beneath the ‘Lust for life,’ ‘You’ll never take me alive’ exterior it also harbours a troubled soul whose crystal visions are rife with fire, empty streets, sleepless nights, prowling ghosts, bad luck, dark rooms and destruction. – Matt James

Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer — “Bass & Mandolin”

With the straightforwardly-titled “Bass & Mandolin”, Meyer and Thile are back at their dumbfounding ways, putting out a set of ten songs that highlight just how rare their talents are on their instruments. The album captures what it is that makes Meyer and Thile who they are as a duo: melodically fascinating, rhythmically unassailable, and exceptionally esoteric. It’s a kind of music that is meant for the cerebral listener first and foremost. This doesn’t make it bad, of course; it just means that one shouldn’t go into the album expecting an easy ride. — Brice Ezell

Sloan – “Commonwealth”

“Commonwealth” is a welcome left turn after the excellence of “The Double Cross.” It may have been folly to try to duplicate the creative success of that record with another just like it, so Sloan tried something else. The closest antecedent here is 2005’s “Never Hear the End of It,” which had a similarly (mild) experimental bent. There, the entire band contributed to a nonstop 30-song suite, while here each member pretty much creates their own suite. This isn’t a huge step away from what the band has always done, but it’s enough of one to keep it interesting for the band members and their listeners. — Chris Conaton

Other notable releases this week:

Tricky – “Adrian Thaws”

Loudon Wainwright III — “Haven’t Gotten the Blues (Yet)”

Ballet School – “The Dew Lasts An Hour”

Busdriver — “Perfect Hair”

Eamon McGrath — “Exile”

Pere Ubu – “Carnival of Souls”

Orlando Julius – “Jaiyede Afro”

American Hi-Fi — “Blood and Lemonade”



Sondre Lerche – “Sentimentalist” (audio)

Coming off of his understated 2011 self-titled LP, Norwegian art pop crooner Sondre Lerche is about to release his boldest and best recording yet, the stunning “Please.” Known for a quirky, jazz-inflected, and highly accessible pop style, Lerche pulls out all the stops with “Please,” an album whose heartbreak-centric lyrics is likely informed by his recent divorce. Following “Bad Law”, “Please”‘s impossibly infectious lead single, Lerche has now released “Sentimentalist”, the gorgeous centerpiece of the album.


Aphex Twin — “minipops 67 (120.2)(source field mix)” (audio)

It’s been a long 13 years since the last Aphex Twin album, “Drukqs,” but now the world need wait no longer. Just recently Richard D. James, the man behind the Aphex Twin moniker, announced a new studio album, “Syro.” Now you can stream the first track off the LP, the cryptically titled “minipops 67 (120.2) (source field mix)”.




Paul Collins — “Feel the Noise” (album stream) (Premiere)

Paul Collins sounds like a guy who not only loves rock ‘n’ roll; he sounds like he’s spent his whole life living it. “Feel the Noise,” his latest studio effort, captures the spirit of a musician who has grown comfortably into his style. After years of playing in power pop groups like the Nerves and the Beat, Collins has continued to smartly integrate the distorted side of his rock and roll with a keen ear for affable hooks.




The Ocean Blue – “Can’t Let Go” (video) (Premiere)

Ten years ago, the Pennsylvania-based veteran indie outfit the Ocean Blue released the now rare EP “Waterworks.” Well, rather, it was until recently rare, as the group announced that it would be re-releasing the EP in addition to several unreleased tracks, recorded around the same time as the EP. Now, “Waterworks” has the feel of a full-length release. One of these unreleased cuts, long-lost potential single “Can’t Let Go”, has now received video treatment, a lovely collage comprised of various shades of blue.


Sara Jackson-Holman – “Summer Song” (video)

Just over a month ago, PopMatters premiered the video to Sara Jackson-Holman’s “River Queen”, the title track off of her new EP. Now, the echoey-voiced Jackson-Holman has released another video, this time for the longing and lovely piano ballad “Summer Song,” her newest single. Though the song’s title may suggest a sunny slice of pop, Jackson-Holman’s take on the subject matter is one of lamentation. The nostalgic music video highlights the song’s yearning and wistfulness, which Jackson-Holman bolsters with her powerful voice.



(PopMatters is an international magazine of arts and culture. Find more PopMatters content at



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The Riff Report: New Music This Week